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Top court finds rights violation in passport revocation of exiled journalist’s wife

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the cancellation of the passport of the wife of an exiled journalist due to her husband’s actions constituted a rights violation, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on Thursday.

The court’s ruling concerns Dilek Dündar, the wife of journalist Can Dündar, who has been living in exile in Germany since 2016. Can Dündar, who was imprisoned for months following his reporting on Turkey’s illegal shipment of arms to Syria, left Turkey shortly after his release from prison in May 2016.

Dilek Dündar had her passport seized at an İstanbul airport in September 2016 and was not allowed to leave the country when she was about to take a flight abroad.

The top court ruled that there was no obstacle to Dilek Dündar traveling abroad and that her right to respect for private and family life guaranteed by the 20th Article of the Turkish Constitution was violated.

The court also ordered the Turkish government to pay Dilek Dündar TL 22,000 in non-pecuniary damages in addition to ordering the local court to review her travel ban.

The court said the revocation of Dündar’s passport contravened the order of a democratic society.

Dilek Dündar had challenged the cancellation of her passport in an application she filed at the Constitutional Court in January 2018 after her attempts at local courts to get her passport back failed.

Following a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the Turkish government cancelled nearly 50,000 passports including those of journalists, academics and businesspeople on the grounds that it was fighting terrorism.

Can Dündar had at the time questioned the legal grounds behind the cancellation of his wife’s passport, tweeting: “’The Interior Ministry shall cancel the passports of the spouses of people whose passports have been revoked,’ says a decree dated Sept. 1. But cancellation date of my [wife’s passport] is Aug. 4.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had openly targeted Can Dündar after his reporting on arms bound for Syria and said he would not let Dündar go without paying a price for his reporting, which amounted to spying and treason according to pro-government circles.

Dilek Dündar announced in June 2019 that she was finally able to rejoin her family abroad despite the travel ban.

She revealed her departure from Turkey on Twitter, with a picture apparently taken in a European city of herself with her husband and her son Ege, who lives in the UK.

“I finally exercised my right to motherhood and rejoined my family,” she said, hinting that she had left the country illegally.

She added that she had paid the “price for trusting the law” by remaining separated from her family.

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